Owen Classic bidding adieu

Irv Sherwood, president of the Southwest Florida Golf Charities, Inc., tells a crowd that the charity had raised more than $1.3 million in the  past 20 years for schools and various chairites. Unfortunately it was at the charity's last gift-giving reception  as it closed its doors.

Photo by ROGER LALONDE

Irv Sherwood, president of the Southwest Florida Golf Charities, Inc., tells a crowd that the charity had raised more than $1.3 million in the past 20 years for schools and various chairites. Unfortunately it was at the charity's last gift-giving reception as it closed its doors.

After 20 years, the Bill Owen Classic, that has gifted more than $1.3 million to area schools for golf programs and educational scholarships, along with local charities, is coming to an end.

The Southwest Florida Charities, Inc. Board, tournament host, voted unanimously on Thursday night to close its doors. The charity, due to tax laws, will remain in existence until the end of the year.

The final gifting reception will be on April 23 at the Eagle Creek Country Club.

“It will be a sad time, but at the same time the organization has done a lot of good,” said Irv Sherwood, Charities president. “It is unfortunate. We kicked around ideas on how it could keep going, but no one else stepped forward. We couldn’t find anyone, or any organization, interested in taking this over.”

Sherwood, who has had health problems, told the board after the event in January that he was going to step down after nearly 20 years of heading the Classic.

“My health situation certainly has a bearing on why I am stepping down,” he said. “There is a lot of pressure and a lot of hard work,” he said. “I don’t think anyone understands what it takes. My wife, Lee, also has done a great deal behind the scenes.”

At the gifting reception, more than $100,000 will be given to area high schools golf programs and for scholarships. Local charities, such as Hospice, also will receive gifts.

The reception begins at 5:30 p.m. Sherwood knows it will be emotional.

“A lot of people, a lot of volunteers, have enjoyed helping us give back to the community,” he said. “I look at the night as a celebration of what we have done.”

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